One reason why I like to follow hockey is because the experience is never really similar to the last one. Once again I saw this happening when I stepped in to TD Place to see a game between Ottawa 67’s and Niagara IceDogs.
The evening started with some pre-game entertainment by live-music by Lucky Ron. Besides this the arena was filled with fans and players’ families who were proudly wearing their players fan shirts. It was surely happy to see so much support and team spirit in the audience for both teams.
Introducing the players was a show in itself. The arena was filled with anticipating atmosphere that was fulfilled by flashing lights and electronic music while Ottawa 67’s Dance & Cheer Team were welcoming the players skating to the ice.
Every home team player was introduced not only by telling his name but also by showing a feature video on the big screen. Later the screen was serving well when following the game with my own eyes were not enough. For example when Niagaras IceDogs’ Mitchell Fitzmorris was pushing Ottawa 67’s Travis Barron by the board so hard that it caused the safety class to break dramatically. I saw only a tip of this impact which meant glass flying upwards on the air and heard a huge bam. This collision was shown also on the screen which was illustrating the full action.
The breaks between the game periods were filled with casual hockey entertainment such as hockey themed music video, playful competitions on ice and also shooting t-shirts to the audience. It seemed that the fans were having a good time with each other while enjoying the food and many beverages that could be bought at the arena. The service was fast and friendly. Popcorn, drinks and ice cream were available also by the staff members who came to sell those by the steps while the game was on.
The game itself was very intensive and included also some unsportsmanlike activities between two team members who decided to fist dance for a while. Players in both teams seemed to be living in the moment. The puck was passed from player to player so fast that I had at times a full work to keep up with it with my camera.
I pointed out the flexibility of the Niagara IceDogs goalkeeper Brent Moran whose 360 turns in front of his net were impressive. Also the way he wasn’t afraid to step forward and jump up if needed made him stand out. From Ottawa 67’s team I followed for a while Alex Lintuniemi, 40. Not only because he is from Finland, but also because of his firm grip of the ice. It seemed like this defense player was the right man to do his job, but also to attack when needed. He was very active and checked some players of the visitors team solidly along the boards.
The stars of the game were Dante Salituro (OTT 96), Travis Konecny (OTT, 17) and Erik Bradford (OTT, 18). Salituro became the player of hat-tricks by making one goal in the first period and two goals in the third, after one goal by his team-mate Erik Bradford. Ottawa 67’s beat the IceDogs with the score board of 4-3.
As a souvenir from this memorable night I got a limited edition collector coin that was somewhat compensating our confusion with the parking hall. We had to puzzle for a while how to get in and out. This was due the unfinished construction work of the arena. But the level of the hockey play will surely make me attend another Ottawa 67’s game in the following weeks.